1. Finances and breast cancer
2. Statutory sick pay
3. Benefits if you have breast cancer
4. Critical illness and breast cancer
5. Blue Badge parking permits
6. Free prescriptions
7. Help with the cost of wigs, bras and prostheses
8. Benefits if you’re caring for someone with breast cancer
9. Where to find information about benefits and financial support
Money concerns, whether permanent or temporary, can be particularly stressful at a time when you feel less able to cope. Many people with breast cancer don’t claim benefits because they’re unaware of what they’re entitled to, are too embarrassed to ask for help, or find the system complicated.
If you’re employed and become sick you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. This will depend on how much you have been earning before becoming ill.
As part of your contract, your employer may also be required to pay occupational sick pay for a number of weeks or months. Check your contract or talk to your Human Resources (HR) department to find out about this.
You may be able to claim benefits if you have breast cancer. Several factors will be taken into account, such as your age, income and savings, and how much National Insurance you’ve paid.
Claiming benefits may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to apply as soon as you feel able (even if you’re not sure that you’re eligible). This is because many benefits can’t be backdated or can only be backdated for a short period. You may be able to claim some benefits even if you’re already receiving other benefits or income support.
You may be able to claim the following benefits if you have breast cancer:
- If you’re no longer entitled to SSP or don't have a job, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.
- If you pay rent you may be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help with the cost.
- You may be able to get help towards childcare costs through benefits such as Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.
You can use a benefits calculator to get an estimate of what benefits and tax credits you could get. Find out more about benefits calculators on the gov.uk website.
Getting expert advice
The benefit system can be confusing. For individual guidance and support call Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00. You can also call Citizen’s Advice for support on benefits, debt and finances. Some hospitals also have benefit advisors.
Disability benefits and breast cancer
You may be able to claim the following disability benefits:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – a benefit for people who struggle with daily tasks or mobility. You may be able to claim PIP if you have breast cancer and are aged over 16 and under state retirement age.
- Attendance Allowance – a benefit for people over state retirement age who have difficulty looking after themselves because of an illness or disability. You don’t have to be receiving care to qualify for this benefit.
Both Attendance Allowance and PIP are tax free and non-means tested. Non-means tested benefits don’t take into account your income and savings. Attendance Allowance and PIP can be paid on top of almost all other benefits. If you are awarded Attendance Allowance or PIP you may be entitled to extra benefits as a result.
Many people with secondary breast cancer are entitled to PIP or Attendance Allowance.
An additional mobility component can also be paid as part of PIP if you have problems planning and going on journeys or moving around. If you are approaching state retirement age it is important to begin the claim before then, as there is no mobility component in Attendance Allowance. Neither benefit can be backdated.
For more information on these benefits, see the gov.uk website.
Secondary breast cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer you may be able to claim PIP or Attendance Allowance (AA) under special rules so that the claim is fast tracked and paid at a higher rate.
The special rules apply when a doctor has said there is a possibility that a person may not live for longer than six months. Claiming under the special rules requires your doctor to complete a DS1500 form and means you will not need to meet the usual conditions for getting PIP or AA or go to a face-to-face consultation.
Although no one can accurately predict the progress of the disease, people with secondary breast cancer are often encouraged to claim under these special rules to help their financial security. Claims are not affected for those who live longer than this.
Some insurance policies and employment benefit schemes may cover you for critical illness. Critical illness cover pays out a tax-free lump sum to help with the costs of a critical illness. Breast cancer is usually classed as a critical illness. If you are unsure, check with your insurance provider or HR department.
If you need any help understanding your insurance or critical illness cover, you can call Macmillan’s financial guidance team on 0808 808 00 00.
You may be able to get a Blue Badge if your mobility is affected. You may be given it temporarily if you have primary breast cancer.
The Blue Badge scheme provides parking concessions for people with severe mobility problems. It can help the holder park close to a destination, whether they are the driver or passenger.
In England and Wales you can apply for a Blue Badge through your local authority and at gov.uk
There are alternative badge schemes for people with restricted mobility who are in areas where the Blue Badge scheme doesn’t apply.
People in England being treated for cancer are entitled to all their prescriptions free of charge. To show you’re eligible for free prescriptions you need to apply for an exemption certificate (FP92A) from your GP or treatment team.
The certificate means that you will not have to pay any charges for prescriptions for five years. You can renew your application after five years if you’re still having treatment for:
- Cancer – includes tamoxifen or other hormone therapies, bisphosphonates (bone strengthening drugs) and lymphoedema garments
- The effects of cancer – includes pain relief and effects directly related to cancer that did not exist before the cancer diagnosis (such as a change in mental health)
- The side effects of cancer treatment – includes all side effects of chemotherapy or late effects caused by radiotherapy
If you have to pay a prescription charge while you’re still waiting for your exemption certificate, ask the pharmacy for an NHS receipt (FP57) when you pay. You will then be able to get a refund later.
People aged 60 and over do not have to pay NHS prescription charges in England and do not need to apply for the certificate.
In Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland, prescriptions are free of charge.
Entitlement to NHS wigs varies across the UK. You may be entitled to a free wig or help towards the cost of your wig.
Depending on their circumstances your carer may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance if you have substantial caring needs. Contact Macmillan to find out about support and benefits that are available to you.
In the first instance, you may find it useful to speak to your employer or HR department, to find out what sick pay you are entitled to. It’s also worth talking to your treatment team, as they may be able to refer you to a welfare adviser at your local hospital (if they have one).
Your local Citizens Advice is also a good place to go for guidance. They can tell you what local government assistance and benefits may be available to you, your family and carers. They can also help you fill out benefit claim forms.
Macmillan Cancer Support offers free financial guidance and support to people with breast cancer. They also produce a booklet Help with the cost of cancer, which includes information on the benefits available for carers, help with housing costs, children’s needs and transport. For more information, speak to the financial guidance team on 0808 808 00 00.